Brad Feld

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Scratch – A New Programming Language

May 29, 2007
Category Technology

40 years ago Logo was created.  When I was at MIT in the 1980’s, I worked for a semester as a UROP (undergraduate research opportunities program) in Seymour Papert’s lab.  The Coleco Adam had just come out and was going to revolutionize the world of home computing with a variety of features, including a version of Logo the lab I was in was porting to it.  Anyone remember the Coleco Adam? 

Recently, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab released (or at least publicized) Scratch.  After playing around with it for a little while this morning, it’s obvious to see Scratch’s roots in Logo.  However, the creators of Scratch have also built an underlying social network for all Scratch programmers / programs / users.  This is the hidden power – within five minutes of exploring I started to find all kinds of interesting programs that I could look at that helped me learn how Scratch worked.  In addition, all the normal social network things applied (e.g. in “My Stuff” I have friends, requests, galleries, projects, and favorites.)

Learning how to program is hard.  I learned on an Apple II in Basic and 6502 machine language.  That impacted how my brain is wired since I was 13 at the time.  Today, when I look at something like Scratch, I can see how the next generation of computer scientists (who are < 10 right now) are going to think about software completely differently than me.  That’s good.